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2016 Halcón "Alturas" Yorkville Highlands Syrah

SKU #1357475 93-95 points Jeb Dunnuck

 I tasted two samples of the 2016 Syrah Alturas, one fermented with 100% whole clusters, and one with 50% whole clusters. Both were serious barrel samples possessing terrific notes of blackcurrants, cracked black peppercorns, meat and olives, full-bodied richness, solid density and ripe, yet certainly present, tannin. It’s loaded with potential, and is reminiscent of Côte Rôtie from the northern part of the appellation.  (7/2017)

94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2016 Syrah Alturas is a wonderful wine, offering up a youthful but superb bouquet of violets, cracked pepper, grilled meat and crunchy cassis. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, concentrated and tensile, with fine-grained tannins, a deep core of crunchy fruit and a long, sapid finish. While this is already delicious, it's emphatically a young wine, and the real fireworks will begin when it has five years on the clock. Cropped at 1.25-tons per acre and fermented with 50% whole clusters, this lovely Syrah from Halcón wouldn't be out of place in a flight of great Cornas. It's also shockingly good value. (WK)  (4/2018)

93 points Wine Enthusiast

 This wine, grown at 2,500-feet in elevation, is earthy, herbaceous and peppery, lively in texture and almost light in body. It’s not what most people are expecting in a Syrah, but takes an adventurous detour into an untamed realm of singed sage, wood smoke, black pepper and oolong tea that wakes up the senses. Light tannins and firm acidity make it lip smacking. (JG)  (4/2019)

92 points Vinous

 The 2016 Alturas (Syrah) is polished, refined and sensual, with lovely energy backing up the blueberry, mint, lavender and black pepper notes. Medium in body and gracious, the Alturas is an exquisite Syrah that has so much to offer. All the best elements of the house style come through nicely. I very much like the precision here. (AG)  (7/2018)

K&L Notes

From Wine Advocate: "Perched high in the Yorkville Highlands at 2,500 feet, Halcón vineyard is one of the highest vineyards in California, its thin topsoil covering fractured shale and schist bedrock. Densely planted and subject to strong oceanic breezes, in Paul Gordon's hands this site naturally produces fabulous Syrahs with tension, energy and character that recall the Northern Rhône's best. Winemaking features significant percentages of whole cluster fermentation and low percentages of new oak—a regimen that will be familiar to anyone who follows producers such as Allemand, Gonon or Jamet. Note that it wouldn't be possible to produce super-ripe, dramatic Syrah in this site, so while these wines offer plenty of crunchy upfront fruit and don't lack any concentration, this isn't the address to come to in search of unctuousness and weight."

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Price: $29.99

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Staff Image By: James Bradshaw | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 10/12/2018 | Send Email
With a deep garnet rim and dark purple center, you can tell from the color alone that this is going to be a powerful, concentrated red. The nose is a heady melange of wet stone, ripe red fruits, and raspberry coulis. These flavors are very much repeated on the palate with added touches of blueberry liqueur, Asian spice, saddle leather, black peppercorn, and cedar. Lush and inviting on the front, the mouthfeel becomes more grippy towards the finish thanks to some nicely integrated, powdery tannins. This 2016 is an utter delight in every possible way. While there is ample power, everything remains well in check. Evenly balanced, with great richness and depth, it's easy to see why the critics are drawing parallels to top-tier Northern Rhône reds. This is an excellent bottle to enjoy now, but there's enough structure here to warrant another 10 to 15 years of aging. Halcón is clearly on a roll and this is one wine you don't want to miss.

Staff Image By: Jim Boyce | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 5/17/2018 | Send Email
We couldn't be happier seeing these delicious Halcon wines net some solid press recognition recently! Their wines have continued to impress since the first 2009 vintage graced the K&L shelves. This 2016 shows gorgeous aromatics of violets, blue fruits, and fresh grilled meats. Brambly black and blue fruits, bacon fat, black pepper, an broad tanin finish stand out on an incredibly structured palate that, while rich, never goes overboard into too ripe or cloying territory. There is a ton of aging potential in this wine if you can hold off.

Staff Image By: Stephanie Vidales | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 5/17/2018 | Send Email
The previous vintage of this Syrah from Halcon was stunning, but this 2016 ​is even better. This Syrah has 50% stem inclusion, and also has 3% of Viognier​ co-fermented to give it a beautiful floral lift. There's complexity and balance in this wine with expressed notes of violets, red and black fruit, exotic spice and dried herbs. It's full-bodied with nice structure, so there's definitely aging potential in this Syrah. All this for 30 bucks? You can't go wrong.

Staff Image By: Ryan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 5/16/2018 | Send Email
One of the finest examples of this varietal to grace our shelves here at K&L. This is a truly spectacular expression of Syrah regardless of place or price point. The purest nose of crushed violets, mulberry, seared steak and ground spices. On the palate the wine is beautifully focused, elegant and vibrant. The tannins are notable but not at all aggressive or astringent, instead they are perfectly refined to give length and grip that will assure a long life. With time in the glass the wine unfurls showing off layer after layer of black and blue fruits, exotic spices, floral high tones and meaty, smokey bass notes. The real deal. I'm so glad to see the folks at Halcon getting the critical acclaim they have long deserved.

Staff Image By: Gary Norton | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 5/15/2018 | Send Email
Halcon has been on a qualitative roar for some time now and this bottling is no different. With qualities akin to top-vintage Cote Rotie or Hermitage, it boasts massive concentration, great purity of fruit and full-bodied richness - all for less than thirty bucks. Dried violets, game, black olives, blackberries and hints of leather, this one truly has it all. Pull the cork tonight or let it develop for a decade plus - totally up to you.

Staff Image By: Ryan Moses | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 5/15/2018 | Send Email
We've been big fans of Paul Gordon and Scott Shapley for a while now, and the last few vintages of their Alturas Syrah have been nothing short of thrilling. Now professional reviewers Jeb Dunnuck and William Kelley are singing their praise with every new publication, including endless comparisons to Northern Rhone all-stars. These wines are not long for this kind of ridiculously low price. Aromatics include deep blackberry, black pepper, and braising herbs. The palate is pure and focused with cool dark red and black fruits, cured meats, and a spicy finish. Texturally pure and balanced, it has a very unique old-world reserve and will be fascinating to visit over the upcoming years. If you can resist, hold for a few years and drink for the following fifteen.

Additional Information:



- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year.
Specific Appellation:

Anderson Valley/Mendocino

- Cooled by the nearby ocean and the seemingly omnipresent bank of oceanic fog, this picturesque wine region is home to a wealth of cool-climate grapes like riesling and gewürztraminer plus chardonnay and pinor noir, which are responsible for impressive and intense sparkling wines.
Alcohol Content (%): 13.5